Why GHH? Ask Surveyor Calvin Weingart…

Meet Surveyor Calvin Weingart, P.L.S.

A Q & A with a 25 year veteran surveyor, Calvin finds passion and inspiration in his work and brings that to GHH’s clients on every project. 

How long have you worked at GHH?
I have worked here since June 15, 1998, so a little over 25 years.

What do you do and why do you do it?
I am a Professional Licensed Land Surveyor.  I do it because it is a good mix of outdoor physical activity and indoor intellectual activity.   I’ve been the Survey Manager at Godfrey Hoffman Hodge since 2015. I enjoy every aspect of the position from initial client contact to mission planning and execution to training and mentoring of survey technicians.

Why should someone seeking a survey contact GHH over your competitors?
I manage each job as I would want it managed if I was the client: consistent communication, performance to utmost ability, professionalism, patience. My goal is to minimize the chance the client will ask for an update.

What does a typical day look like for you?
I get in the office a little before 8 most days and review the plan of the day for our department.  I start mission briefs promptly at 8:00 and get the crew(s) ready to head out to the field.  If I am part of the field crew I gather files, gear and people and try to be out by 8:20 or so.  Between travel time and company hours there is only about 5 hours of onsite time so every minute counts in the morning.

If I am working in the office, I get the crew(s) launched out the door and start working on whatever task I have for myself that day.  This can range from survey computations, autocad drafting, land records research and quality review of completed surveys.  I have a dual mission in the form of staff and client support, so I am often switching from one function to another.

By about 2:30 or so I start thinking about the next day’s tasking to try and stay ahead of everyone so there is minimal down time and maximum efficiency.  By 3:30 the crew is usually back in, if they aren’t in already. They download the day’s data files and process all the info.  We attend to a few administrative chores such as time keeping and we wrap up at 4:30 with, hopefully, the next day planned out and all gear and files set to go.

What has changed during your career?
Technological advances in data collection, the availability of very accurate open-source data and municipal GIS.  All for the better or worse depending on your point of view.

What hasn’t changed?
The need for a professional surveyor’s expertise to verify measurements, the need to apply the rules of evidence and interpret boundary law and chopping line through dense brush on very hot days.

What’s the most interesting property you ever surveyed?
I  can’t name the exact property but I did get a chance to work in a very interesting location in the very heart of New Haven . Lets just say that we worked in spaces where some globally powerful people once socially  gathered in private.

What’s the hardest property you ever surveyed?
That is a subjective question! Some small parcels are very challenging with respect to forming a boundary opinion so the hard part is intellectual. On the other hand, some large parcels are physically demanding, such the 100 plus acres we surveyed in North Stonington.  I had two back to back days of walking 8 plus miles during one phase of the job. And there was the job this summer where we located and identified 612 trees.

What keeps you going back?
My job checks all the boxes for me: Physical work, intellectual work, technical expertise, mission planning, leadership, doing something that is a little offbeat that most people know a little about but not too much.  And finally, I am truly fortunate that I found a career in which you can start at the very bottom and work your way up to professional licensing through (I know this sounds quaint) hard work and dedication.

FEMA Elevation Certificates: Get When Buying Flood Insurance

Flooding is one of the costliest disasters in the United States, which is why homeowners need flood insurance. However, you should know that FEMA Elevation Certificates are needed when you buy flood insurance and here is why. Insurance claims have averaged almost $2 billion per year from the years 2006 until 2015 when the last statistics were posted. And from 1980 up until 2013, the average cost was over $260 billion in damages.

Who Needs One?

Those who live in a high-risk area typically need an Elevation Certificate when applying for flood insurance. This is so that the premium for flood insurance can be determined properly. Even those in a flood zone who make changes to their home such as a garage to living space conversion or adding a room addition will need an Elevation Certificate so it is not solely for new homeowners.

What Does It Do?

An Elevation Certificate simply determines the elevation of your property. This is important when deciding your insurance premium because the elevation plays an important role in the likelihood of your property being prone to flooding.

How Does It Work?

According to FEMA“Flood hazard areas identified on the Flood Insurance Rate Map are identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). SFHAs are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30. Moderate flood hazard areas, labeled Zone B or Zone X (shaded) are also shown on the FIRM and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood.

If your home falls into one of the high risk zones, the Elevation Certificate or EC determines things such as building characteristics, the location of the building, and the flood zone itself. This certificate is used in conjunction with what is called a BFE, which stands for Base Flood Elevation. The Base Flood Elevation works by estimating that there is a one percent chance (at least) that the floodwaters will reach or even exceed the area within a one-year period. For obvious reasons, the more risk you have, the higher the premium may be but the higher your lowest floor is above the Base Flood Elevation, the less the risk you have of flooding and the lower the insurance premium should be.

How Do You Get One?

To get a FEMA Elevation Certificate, there are a few options.

  • The Builder or Developer. If the home is already constructed and in a high-risk area, an Elevation Certificate was needed and may be on file so you do not have to get a new one. However, the Elevation Certificate may not be up to date so you should seek out a qualified Land Surveyor.
  • The Sellers. If you are buying your home from a seller, check to see if the Elevation Certificate was already granted. In cases where the buyer does not have one, you can always ask for it to be included in the sale. This is also a situation where the EC may not beup to date so please check with a qualified Land Surveyor if it is not.
  • Land Surveyor. A Land Surveyor has the ability to supply you with an Elevation Certificate. Getting a qualified Land Surveyor is very importatnt since they will know proper procedures and most likely save you money on your flood policy. premiums.

If you would like to learn more about flood insurance or obtaining FEMA elevation certificates through a land surveyor, please contact us today and learn how we can help with a land map and survey.

Executive Order affecting floodplain development issued January 31, 2015

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An Executive Order has been issued that is very important information for anyone working in the Special Flood Hazard Area. It takes future conditions into account and requires Design Elevations for lowest floors to be 2 feet above BFE for standard construction and 3 feet above BFE for critical facilities, or construction to the 500 year / 0.2%. Implementation of this new standard will not occur until the end of the 60-day public input period and agencies have been able to update their standards and regulations, which will also trigger public comment periods.

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Elevation Certificates and the Climate Data Initiative

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A Huffington Post article recently featured in the Connecticut Association of Land Surveyor’s (CALS) weekly newsletter captured the importance of a push for climate change preparedness in Washington called the climate data initiative. The initiative will make public useful and pertinant information in regards to climate change, compiling it at Climate.Data.gov.

The aim of the initiative is to make information regarding climate change more available to foster private-sector action on climate change preparedness.

According to the Obama Administration, “the climate change initiative will help create easy-to-use tools for regional planners, farmers, hospitals, and businesses across the country — and empower America’s communities to prepare themselves for the future.”

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Congress Votes to Block Flood Insurance Premium Hikes

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 This past Tuesday, the House voted overwhelmingly to pass a bill that would largley repeal Biggert-Waters, a bill which saught to balance FEMA’s enormos debt by expanding flood insurance risk pools and increasing premiums. The new bill, called the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, limits premium increases from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to 18% a year.

The new bill makes several key changes that homeowners should immediately feel, in addition to the limit on premium increases. 

 

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